Friday, July 23, 2010

The satellites are missing

Back in January, our friends were crowing about the warmest satellite temperatures on record. But now they seem to have lost interest in satellites. I wonder why?


It probably has to do with the fact that temperature anomalies are plummeting at a rate of 0.47 °C/year and that satellite temperatures in 2010 are showing no signs of setting a record.

The attention span of our alarmist friends seems to be getting shorter and shorter. They lock in on a week of warm temperatures on the east coast, a week of warm temperatures in Europe, a week of rapid melt in the Arctic. But they have completely lost the plot of the big picture.

The graph below shows Hansen’s A/B/C scenarios in black, and GISTEMP overlaid in red.

Note that actual GISTEMP is below all three of Hansen’s forecasts. According to RealClimate :

Scenario B was roughly a linear increase in forcings, and Scenario C was similar to B, but had close to constant forcings from 2000 onwards. Scenario B and C had an ‘El Chichon’ sized volcanic eruption in 1995. Essentially, a high, middle and low estimate were chosen to bracket the set of possibilities. Hansen specifically stated that he thought the middle scenario (B) the “most plausible”.

In other words, actual temperature rise has been less than Hansen forecast – even if there was a huge volcanic eruption in the 1990s, and no new CO2 introduced over the past decade! We have fallen more than half a degree below Hansen’s “most plausible” scenario, even though CO2 emissions have risen faster than worst case.


  1. We are not going to set a record this year (for the whole year)
  2. Hansen has vastly overestimated climate sensitivity
  3. Temperatures have risen slower than Hansen forecast for a carbon free 21st century

So what exactly is it that these folks are still worried about?

Rebuild America, or Bomb Afghanistan? Bring our war $$ home!

The current war in Afghanistan costs in excess of $48,000 a minute.

Meanwhile, a National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is talking about cuts to Social Security, Medicare and the home mortgage deduction to address the nation's growing budget deficit.

An educational technician I worked with told me that after her father died, her mother depended on SS to raise her and her siblings. “We would never have made it without that monthly check,” she said, but was too scared to write a letter to the editor about it for fear of repercussions from her employer.

The average cost to deploy a soldier to Afghanistan for a year is $1,000,000. It has more than tripled since '01, mostly because of for-profit contractors. Current data indicate there are more contractors in Afghanistan than troops (and their deaths go largely unreported).

Meanwhile, my local school budget came up about $1,000,000 short this year, because sharply reduced federal subsidies to my state resulted in sharply reduced contributions to schools. Will local taxpayers be willing to make up the difference? Would they even be able to make up the difference, what with unemployment running to double digits?

Senator Olympia Snowe told me last Saturday that she would vote “yes” on the war supplemental bill because she could not refuse while we have “troops in the field.” I told her about budget cuts for the mentally retarded elderly in Maine, and that ten years of funding for war in Afghanistan was not an emergency but a policy.

Meanwhile, two elementary schools near me closed in June for lack of funding. Parents cried openly at school board meetings, and pointed out that reading achievement for students at the schools was much higher than average. Not deploying one soldier to Afghanistan would have kept both schools open, with money to spare.

My senator was looking at a large banner that said Bring Our War $$ Home as we had our conversation. CODEPINK Maine has waged a vigorous campaign to help Mainers connect the dots of out of control military spending and failure to fund human needs like health care and education. PINK aprons and a war pie with a whopping 54% slice of discretionary federal budget help get the message out.

Look for BOW$H in Albany at the National Peace Conference this weekend in a Saturday afternoon workshop with the National Priorities project and fellow “move the money” activists from Massachusetts.

On Sunday morning, join a panel discussion with Medea Benjamin, Glenn Ford, Kevin Zeese and Christine Gauvreau on “The Rise of Right Wing Populism & the Tea Party: Do We Need a Right-Left Coalition?” The deficit boogey man isn't going away, and scare tactics continue to prepare working class people for measures like cutting Social Security. As keynote speaker Noam Chomsky has observed, we ignore fascist organizing of disaffected Americans in real economic distress at our peril.

Medea describes our choice this way: Rebuild America, or Bomb Afghanistan? Make sure your neighbors know there is a real choice, and a real price tag.

See you in Albany!

Florida Dengue Fever Outbreak Leads Back to CIA and Army Experiments

With little fanfare on July 13, Florida officials released the findings of a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study conducted recently in the Key West area revealing that about 10 percent, or 1,000 people, of the coastal town's population are infected with the dengue fever virus.

While the July 13 release made little mention of it, the CDC study was provoked by an earlier 2009 report that a woman in New York State, who had returned from a Florida Keys' visit, had contracted dengue fever. Within a few weeks of this initial report, two additional cases were discovered in people who had returned from Key West. Over the next three months of 2009, an additional 26 cases were identified, all tied to visits to the town.

Because of these reported cases, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District conducted greatly increased aerial spraying to control mosquitoes. Following the spraying, a small amount of other cases were reported, including that of a 41-year-old Key West man who found blood in his urine and had severely aching joints. Following these additional reports, the CDC launched its study of antibodies in Key West residents and found that 5 percent of the town's residents have been exposed to the dengue virus. Said CDC dengue expert, Dr. Christopher J. Gregory, "The best estimate from the survey is that about 5 percent of [residents] was infected in 2009 with dengue." Gregory also stated, "We have known for a while it is a possible risk, but this outbreak shows it is more than possible: It is something that did happen and could happen again."

Despite the low-key nature of the Florida release, the Homeland Security Administration immediately issued a "terror alert" concerning the findings and Monroe County, within which Key West is located, also issued its own health advisory warning "effective immediately."

Said Bob Eadie of the Monroe County Health Department, "Dengue is rare in Florida, but not unknown. It's just one of several mosquito-borne illnesses monitored by the department and why we continually remind the public to take precautions against bites." Eadie added, "Many people may be infected and not develop any symptoms. Our department and the CDC will have to do some detective work after interviewing and drawing blood from residents who appear to be perfectly fine but may have the virus."

Dengue fever is a virus-based disease spread by the bites of mosquitoes. It can be caused by any one of four separate but related viruses carried by infected mosquitoes, most commonly the mosquito Aedes aegypti, found in tropic and subtropic areas. It is commonly found in Southeast Asia, South and Central America, Indonesia and sub-Saharan Africa. Over the past several decades it has been consistently reported that dengue fever has been eradicated in North America. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a far more severe form of the dengue virus. If untreated, it can be fatal. The chief symptoms of dengue fever are a high fever, severe headache, strong pain behind the eyes, joint, muscle and bone pain, easy bruising, rash and mild bleeding from the nose and gums. There is no cure or vaccine for dengue fever. One can only treat the symptoms in such ways as getting plenty of rest, drink plenty of water, take pain relievers with acetaminophen and promptly consult a skilled physician.

Hidden History of Dengue

It appears highly unlikely that any "detective work" performed by the CDC and Florida health officials will unearth evidence of dengue fever being imported into Florida, but that evidence certainly exists. Prior to the recent Key West findings and still today, the CDC has consistently reported that there have been no outbreaks of dengue fever in Florida since 1934 and none in the continental US since 1946. This report is incorrect.

Unknown to most Americans is that dengue fever has been the intense focus of US Army and CIA biological warfare researchers for over 50 years. Ed Regis notes in his excellent history of Fort Detrick, "The Biology of Doom," that as early as 1942 leading biochemists at the installation placed dengue fever on a long list for serious consideration as a possible weapon. In the early 1950s, Fort Detrick, in partnership with the CIA, launched a multi-million dollar research program under which dengue fever and several addition exotic diseases were studied for use in offensive biological warfare attacks. Assumably, because the virus is generally not lethal, program planners viewed it primarily as an incapacitant. Reads one CIA Project Artichoke document: "Not all viruses have to be lethal ... the objective includes those that act as short-term and long-term incapacitants." Several CIA documents, as well as the findings of a 1975 Congressional committee, reveal that three sites in Florida, Key West, Panama City and Avon Park, as well as two other locations in central Florida, were used for experiments with mosquito-borne dengue fever and other biological substances.

The experiments in Avon Park, about 170 miles from Miami, were covertly conducted in a low-income African-American neighborhood that contained several newly constructed public housing projects. CIA documents related to its top-secret Project MK/NAOMI clearly indicate that the mosquitoes used in Avon Park were the Aedes aegypti type. Specially equipped aircraft, in one of the larger experiments, released 600,000 mosquitoes over the area. In one of the Avon Park experiments, about 150,000 mosquitoes were dropped in paper bags designed to open upon impact with the ground. Each bag held about 1,000 insects. Besides dengue, some of the mosquitoes were also carrying yellow fever.

Avon Park residents, still living in the area, say the experiments resulted in "at least 6 or 7 deaths." One elderly resident told Truthout, "Nobody knew about what had gone on here for years, maybe over 20 years, but in looking back it explained why a bunch of healthy people got sick quick and died at the time of those experiments." Interestingly, at the same time experiments were conducted in Florida, there were at least two cases of dengue fever reported among civilian researchers at Fort Detrick in Maryland.

A 1978 Pentagon publication, entitled "Biological Warfare: Secret Testing & Volunteers," reveals that the Army's Chemical Corps and Special Operations and Projects Divisions at Fort Detrick conducted "tests" similar to the Avon Park experiments in Key West, but the bulk of the documentation concerning this highly classified and covert work is still held by the Pentagon as "secret." One former Fort Detrick researcher says the Army "performed a number of experiments in the area of the Keys," but that "not all concerned dengue virus."

In 1959, Fort Detrick launched its largest mosquito experiment called Operation Bellwether, consisting of over 50 field experiments. Some of these experiments, designed to ascertain the "rate of biting" and "mosquito aggressiveness," were conducted in partnership with scientists with the Rockefeller Institute in New York, where scientists bred their own strain of mosquitoes. Some of the Bellwether experiments were conducted in Florida, as well as in other states, including Georgia, Maryland, Utah and Arizona.

The 1978 Pentagon publication, along with two other Chemical Corps reports, reveal the identities of a number of the companies and institutions that assisted the Army in its offensive biological warfare experiments: Armour Research Foundation (1951-1954); the Battelle Memorial Institute (1952-1965); Ben Venue Labs, Inc. (1953-1954); University of Florida (1953-1956); Florida State University (1951-1953); and the Lovell Chemical Company (1951-1955).

In the spring and summer of 1981, Cuba experienced a severe hemorrhagic dengue fever epidemic. Between May and October 1981, the island nation had 158 dengue-related deaths with about 75,000 reported infection cases. Prior to this outbreak, Cuba had reported only a very small number of cases in 1944 and 1977. At the height of the epidemic, over 10,000 people per day were found infected and 116,150 were hospitalized. At the same time as the 1981 outbreak, covert biological warfare attacks on Cuba's residents and crops were believed to have been conducted against the island by CIA contractors and military airplane flyovers. Particularly harmful to the nation was a severe outbreak of swine flu that Fidel Castro attributed to the CIA. American researcher William H. Schaap, an editor of Covert Action magazine, claims the Cuba dengue outbreak was the result of CIA activities. Former Fort Detrick researchers, all of whom refused to have their names used for this article, say they performed "advance work" on the Cuba outbreak and that it was "man made."

In 1982, the Soviet media reported that the CIA sent operatives into Afghanistan from Pakistan to launch a dengue epidemic. The Soviets claimed the operatives were posing as malaria workers, but, instead, were releasing dengue-infected mosquitoes. The CIA denied the charges. In 1985 and 1986, authorities in Nicaragua accused the CIA of creating a massive outbreak of dengue fever that infected thousands in that country. CIA officials denied any involvement, but Army researchers admitted that intensive work with arthropod vectors for offensive biological warfare objectives had been conducted at Fort Detrick in the early 1980s, having first started in the early 1950s. Fort Detrick researchers reported that huge colonies of mosquitoes infected with not only dengue virus, but also yellow fever, were maintained at the Frederick, Maryland, installation, as well as hordes of flies carrying cholera and anthrax and thousands of ticks filled with Colorado fever and relapsing fever.

A review of declassified Army Chemical Corps documents reveal that the Army may have also been engaged in dengue fever research as early as the late 1940s. Several redacted Camp Detrick and Edgewood Arsenal reports indicate that experiments were conducted on state and federal prisoners who were unwitting exposed to dengue fever, as well as other viruses, some possibly lethal. Freedom of Information requests filed months ago for details on these early experiments remain unanswered.

Dengue Fever and BP Spill Complications

The timing of this outbreak of dengue fever presents two additional problems; the symptoms of dengue fever are very similar to that of exposures to chemicals such as those contained in crude oil and the dispersants currently being used in the contaminated areas of the Gulf of Mexico, potentially making it difficult to diagnose the source of a sufferer's symptoms. Worse yet, there looms the possibility that Corexit and other toxins present in the Gulf area may weaken the immune system, thus, setting the stage for more severe forms of the disease in people who are, or have previously been, exposed to the virus.

It is still unclear to what degree residents of the Gulf area, at large, have been or will be exposed to such chemicals in the long term, but there is mounting evidence that fishermen, cleanup workers, and others who spend significant time in contact with the Gulf waters are beginning to display symptoms consistent with chemically induced neurotoxicity. If dengue fever also spreads within the Gulf community, affecting a significant number of people, it will be increasingly difficult to differentiate the cause of symptoms in those who develop them; even in persons who test positive for dengue exposure, the additional possibility remains that chemical toxicity is present as well.

The presentation of dengue fever varies considerably from case to case. Numerous medical studies have identified asymptomatic infections, or infections that consist of only mild, flu-like symptoms that would likely not result in the sufferer seeking medical attention.

When more troubling symptoms are present, they vary considerably in severity. According to the CDC, milder cases of dengue fever are identified by a high fever accompanied by at least two of the following symptoms: severe headache; severe eye pain (behind eyes); joint pain; muscle and/or bone pain; rash; a mild bleeding manifestation such as bleeding gums, nose bleeds, or easy bruising; and low white cell count. In more severe cases, dengue can cause severe abdominal pain or persistent vomiting; red blotches or patches on the skin; more severe bleeding of nose or gums; vomiting of blood; black, tarry excrement (indicative of the presence of blood in the stool); drowsiness; irritability; cold or clammy skin; pallor; and difficulty breathing. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene has reported cases of dengue fever that resulted in neurological manifestations, as well.

Dengue fever can also cause a much more serious, hemorrhagic form of the disease, the presentation of which the CDC describes as follows:

"[A] fever that lasts from 2 to 7 days, with general signs and symptoms consistent with dengue fever. When the fever declines, warning signs may develop. This marks the beginning of a 24 to 48 hour period when the smallest blood vessels (capillaries) become excessively permeable ("leaky"), allowing the fluid component to escape from the blood vessels into the peritoneum (causing ascites) and pleural cavity (leading to pleural effusions). This may lead to failure of the circulatory system and shock and possibly death without prompt, appropriate treatment. In addition, the patient with DHF has a low platelet count and hemorrhagic manifestations, tendency to bruise easily or have other types of skin hemorrhages, bleeding nose or gums and possibly internal bleeding."

As if this were not troubling enough, let us compare the above symptom picture to the symptoms associated with exposure to the dispersants Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527. The exact risks of exposure to these chemicals have yet to be determined; in fact, the manufacturers' material safety data sheet (MSDS) for Corexit 9500 states: "No toxicity studies have been conducted on this product." The MSDS further states that one should not come in contact with the product or breathe its vapors and that adequate protective skin protection and breathing apparatuses should be worn when handling or working with the compound. Any hints of safe usage within the MSDS on these chemicals should be viewed from the following perspective: the MSDS data assumes limited exposure (for example, while applying the chemical) and the use of adequate protective gear. These statistics do not apply, therefore, to unprotected people who may be subject to long-term, consistent exposure.

Many toxicologists have raised grave concerns, however, about the risks that these dispersants may pose to residents of the Gulf of Mexico area. Dr. Susan Shaw, a marine toxicologist, talked about her recent experience with shrimpers who had been working in the Gulf waters. In an interview on CNN, she addressed the situation of a shrimper who had thrown his net into water, causing the water to splash onto his unprotected skin. She reported that he developed a "headache that lasted 3 weeks, heart palpitations, muscle spasms, bleeding from the rectum ..." and continued, "and that's what this Corexit does, it ruptures red blood cells, causes internal bleeding and liver and kidney damage. ..." She asserts that the combination of oil from the well, combined with Corexit dispersant, increases the toxicity of both substances. In combination, she believes that they are skin permeable and that they aerosolize to produce a breathing hazard as well. The toxins can enter the body through the respiratory tract, but are unlikely to remain localized in the lungs, instead spreading throughout one's entire body system.

Numerous reports have come in from both residents of the Gulf area and journalists visiting the area that many people who are exposed to the water are beginning to experience health problems. Among the most commonly reported symptoms are burning eyes, skin rashes, lightheadedness, dizziness, difficulty breathing, transient numbness and shooting pains, persistent coughing, sore throats, muscle and bone aches, weakness and severe fatigue. More troubling reports, such as those of the shrimpers mentioned above, have included bleeding from the nose and from the rectum, as well as permanent numbness in extremities and complete loss of the sense of smell. It is generally accepted in the medical literature that, although the initial, acute presentation of toxic exposure is generally the most severe, symptoms may linger indefinitely or even result in permanent damage to the body.

Herein lies the dilemma: If a Gulf resident becomes ill, to what do we attribute his or her symptoms? In addition to the dispersants themselves, Gulf residents are potentially suffering from exposure to benzene and other toxic chemicals that are naturally present in crude oil, as well as several potentially toxic gases being released from the well. In combination with the dispersant, the exact toxicity risk of these chemicals remains unknown.

Add now, to the picture, the risk of having contracted dengue fever and the puzzle becomes more difficult to piece together. The CDC's 2009 survey contained samples from only 240 households and determined that about 5 percent of the residents had antibodies to the dengue virus, indicating either current infection or a prior exposure. This relatively small sample may not be indicative of the Florida population as a whole and may not be a valid indicator of the overall number of exposed people in the surrounding areas.

The medical literature indicates that dengue virus, like many other viruses, may remain in the body in a latent form; during latency, the virus is unlikely to cause symptoms. A second infection with dengue, however, can lead to a much more severe presentation of the disease and a greater likelihood of it progressing to its hemorrhagic (and potentially fatal) form. Likewise, the literature indicates that a severe assault to the immune system presents a risk of virus reactivation and resultant disease.

Dr. Shaw's assessment of the dangers of Corexit dispersant, particularly in combination with the other contaminants resulting from the damaged BP oil well, includes the potential for severe damage to the immune system. Such immune system suppression or damage, it seems, could then reactivate dengue fever in residents who carry the latent virus, perhaps even resulting in a more severe form of the disease's presentation.

Assuming the above quoted assessments of the current situation in Florida are accurate, the presence of the dengue virus in Florida at this time makes for a nightmarish picture. Not only is there a tremendous symptom overlap between dengue virus and toxin exposure, up to and including the potential for a hemorrhagic presentation of both, but there looms on the horizon a new and frightening possibility: The combined presence of this disease and a toxic environment might have the potential to combine, making an already tragic situation incrementally worse.

H.P. Albarelli Jr. is the author of "A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments" (TrineDay, 2010). Albarelli's book documents and details numerous CIA and Pentagon sponsored experiments on unwitting human subjects. Albarelli is a founding member of the recently formed North American Truth and Accountability Commission on Human Experimentation.

Zoe Martell is a lecturer in psychology at San Francisco State University; much of her work has focused on the experiences of people suffering from chronic illnesses. She is also an artist and is currently working toward a dual master's degree at San Francisco Art Institute.

French police use live ammunition against riots over police killings

Over the last week, two young men were shot and killed while attempting to flee police, in the suburbs of Grenoble and the village of Saint-Aignan in central France. Police have responded to riots provoked by the killings with massive police deployments, firing live ammunition.

Police killed Karim Boudouda, 27, with a shot to the head in front of his home on the night of July 15-16, after a car chase in the neighbourhood of La Villeneuve in the Alpine city of Grenoble in southeastern France.

He was suspected of participating in the armed robbery of a casino. Police claimed to have found a bag in the back of his car containing €20,000 stolen from the casino. Police said they had come under fire from Boudouda’s car and had only fired in self-defense.

Police shot Luigi Dequenet—a member of a group of travellers who failed to stop at a police check point—near Saint-Aignan on the following night.

On Sunday, some 50 people from his community attacked Saint-Aignan’s police headquarters with hatchets and iron bars. They also cut down trees lining the streets and toppled traffic lights. The mayor of the village told Libération: “There was a settling of accounts between vagabonds and the police.”

Two helicopters and 300 law enforcement personnel were sent to the village, whose population is 3,250.

In the Grenoble area, rioting began the night after the shooting. After listening on Friday evening to the prayers of an imam for Karim in the neighbourhood park where he lived, fifty youths attacked bus shelters and a tram with iron bars and baseball bats. According to the police, between 50 and 60 cars were torched that night, as well as machines on a building site and two shops. Some 15 cars burned the following night.

At 2:30 AM on Saturday morning, police again fired live rounds in the La Villeneuve housing estate, claiming that youths had fired a handgun at them. Subsequently, they claim to have been fired upon each night—and twice on Sunday—though no policeman has been hurt.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux went to Grenoble on Saturday. He said he would “reestablish public order and the authority of the state ... by all means necessary.” He added that special police detachments would remain “as long as necessary, and until calm was restored.”

He said, “There is a simple and clear reality in this country: hooligans and delinquents have no future, because the public power always ends up winning.”

Hortefeux made a 15-minute lightning visit of La Villeneuve to threaten quick action: “When I say quick, I mean immediately, that’s how we are going to re-establish public order and the authority of the state.”

That night 300 heavily-armed police—including 240 elite anti-terrorist forces—invested La Villeneuve. Street lighting was switched off, and a police helicopter circled overhead, training a searchlight down on the neighborhood. Police forces are scheduled to control the area until at least tomorrow night.

On Sunday, Boudouda’s mother appealed for calm and told Agence France-Presse she would fight to bring to light the circumstances of her son’s death. She said, “They totally screwed up, the police, they totally screwed up. I am going to see the prosecutor and demand an investigation.”

A woman from the estate told L'Humaníté that the imam’s sermon did not provoke the riot: “Karim Boudouda was from this neighborhood, and the youth who showed their anger do not accept the conditions of the death of their friend.”

The police have arrested 20 people since Friday night. Four people were arrested on suspicion of firing on the police. On Sunday evening two were still being held, pending charges of attempted murder. Three youth were to appeal before magistrates yesterday on charges of looting shops. Fifteen houses have been searched.

Yesterday Libération quoted La Villeneuve residents, “The neighborhood took the death of the young man very badly. They let him die on the ground, they left his body on the asphalt instead of transporting him.” The paper added that it had heard the same complaints over and over in the area: “They came to shoot him down in his neighborhood ... they killed him in front of his mother.”

The police killing of two men—and the permission given to police to fire live ammunition at local residents—are not only an act of aggression against residents of Grenoble and St. Aignan, but a warning to the entire working class. Hortefeux’s “lightning” visit to La Villeneuve underscores the fact that leading government officials treat such areas not so differently from rebellious cities of an occupied country.

This is the politically criminal outcome of the deepening social inequality and the racist, law-and-order rhetoric that now permeates French politics.

Such appeals provided the basis for the media’s embrace of Nicolas Sarkozy, prior to his election as president in 2007—as well as for the campaign of his principal opponent, Ségolène Royal of the Parti Socialiste (PS). The political establishment has backed the latest police outrage without flinching. PS spokesman Benoît Hamon criticized the government for appearing “overwhelmed” in the “struggle against insecurity”—that is, for not having deployed enough policemen against the most oppressed sections of the working class.

La Villeneuve is one of many ZUS (Sensitive Urban Zones), socially deprived areas home to 4.5 million people across France. According to a December report of the National Observatory of the ZUS, poverty is continuously increasing in these neighborhoods. Already in 2008, before the onset of the world economic crisis, unemployment in the ZUS among the 18-to-24 age bracket reached 41 percent.

The political establishment has sought to deal with rising discontent at social oppression with police repression, while disorienting other sections of the population with racist appeals against the immigrant suburbs.

In October 2005, Sarkozy’s racist taunts against immigrant youth, whom he called “scum,” were soon followed by the deaths of two young men—Zyad Benna and Bouna Traore—while fleeing police in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois. This provoked three weeks of rioting in France’s suburbs. In response, then-President Jacques Chirac imposed a three-month state of emergency, with the support of the establishment “left” parties.

In 2007 two teenagers, Larami and Moushin, were killed in the Paris suburb of Villiers-le-Bel in a collision with police, who fled the scene. This provoked three nights of rioting, during which police claimed they had been fired upon by unidentified gunmen. Youths picked up during the rioting were given stiff sentences in summary trials.

The political establishment’s easy toleration of police killings and martial-law-style mass repression is the product of the reactionary, racist climate promoted in France with the outbreak of the world economic crisis, and of mass social discontent in the population.

Sarkozy responded to mass demonstrations against the bank bailouts of 2008-2009 with proposals to ban the burqa and a racist “national identity” campaign, aimed at dividing the working class along racial and ethnic lines. These campaigns found no real opposition from any section of the political establishment. This has further inflamed racial tensions, with politicians and media personalities notably denouncing non-white members of France’s defeated World Cup football team as “scum.”

As the most recent killings and repression make clear, these initiatives lay the political basis for the officially-sanctioned use of deadly force against discontent in the working class.

Merck buys vax unit from bankrupt Hawaii Biotech

Merck (NYSE: MRK) has agreed to purchase bankrupt Hawaii Biotech's dengue fever vaccine unit for an undisclosed sum. It's a critical move for Hawaii, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year and will deplete a $2 million credit line by the end of this month. The sale leaves Hawaii with a West Nile virus vaccine in development.

Hawaii CEO Elliot Parks says Merck's interest in the dengue unit validates the work his company has done on the program. "We're very proud to see that they will develop what we've been working on. They clearly have the resources to get the products registered and into the public health system," he notes. The vaccine is set to enter the clinic later this year. Merck, for its part, says that the purchase is part of its strategy to develop vaccines for unmet medical needs. The Pharma giant's other programs include vaccines hepatitis A and hepatitis B; measles, mumps and rubella; human papillomavirus; and influenza, according to the Star Advertiser.

- here's the report for more

Obama Employs Bush Administration Tactic, Blocks Photos

On Wednesday, Obama said he “would try to block the court-ordered release of photos showing U.S. troops abusing prisoners.” The release, which was to be the result of a Freedom of Information Act request made by the ACLU, had been reasonable in the final weeks of April, but today, Obama chose to come out against the release.

According to the Associated Press, “out of concern [that] the pictures would "further inflame anti-American opinion" and endanger U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan” Obama planned to block them.

Obama intends to block the release of the photos because they may negatively impact American empire and American military adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gen. Ray Odierno, a prime architect of “the surge” in Iraq, and Gen. David Petraeus influenced Obama’s decision after informing the administration that they were afraid the photos will “cost American lives.”

Obama suggested that the “photos had already served their purpose in investigations of "a small number of individuals” and "the individuals who were involved have been identified, and appropriate actions have been taken."

Also, Obama made the argument that "these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib."

When choosing to make a “mockery” out of his “promise of transparency and accountability” (as one member of the ACLU put it), Obama is fine with contending that if information requested does not show something worse than said previous atrocity or does not show that something more inhumane happened the information should not be released.

Even if the information would give further credence to the argument that the Bush Administration tortured (which many in the corporate news media are still reluctant to outright accept as they continue to cling to the “enhanced interrogation technique” euphemism when discussing “torture”), the fact that it does not top the brutality of a batch of previous photos means that the ACLU’s FOIA request should not be fulfilled.

The ACLU released a response to Obama’s decision, which was written by Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

The Obama administration's adoption of the stonewalling tactics and opaque policies of the Bush administration flies in the face of the president's stated desire to restore the rule of law, to revive our moral standing in the world and to lead a transparent government. This decision is particularly disturbing given the Justice Department's failure to initiate a criminal investigation of torture crimes under the Bush administration.

"It is true that these photos would be disturbing; the day we are no longer disturbed by such repugnant acts would be a sad one. In America, every fact and document gets known – whether now or years from now. And when these photos do see the light of day, the outrage will focus not only on the commission of torture by the Bush administration but on the Obama administration's complicity in covering them up. Any outrage related to these photos should be due not to their release but to the very crimes depicted in them. Only by looking squarely in the mirror, acknowledging the crimes of the past and achieving accountability can we move forward and ensure that these atrocities are not repeated.

"If the Obama administration continues down this path, it will betray not only its promises to the American people, but its commitment to this nation's most fundamental principles. President Obama has said we should turn the page, but we cannot do that until we fully learn how this nation veered down the path of criminality and immorality, who allowed that to happen and whose lives were mutilated as a result. Releasing these photos – as painful as it might be – is a critical step toward that accounting. The American people deserve no less."

Obama said of the Freedom of Information Act in a January 21 memo, “The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears.”

But, on matters of American empire or “state secrets,” the administration is as bad as Bush if not worse.

Robert Gibbs’ press briefing on the reversal shows just how poor a case the administration has for keeping these photos from being released:

QUESTION: Can you go over the sequence of events that led to this thought process? Because, on April 24th, when the Pentagon was explaining its decision to release the photos, it said that -- the spokesman said that there was a feeling that the case had pretty much run its course.
GIBBS: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: And now you’re saying that the president feels that there’s a strong argument to be made...
GIBBS: Because the argument that the president has asked his legal team to make is not an argument that the previous legal team made in that case. They argued a couple of different things, including, a law enforcement exception. And the judge ruled that, to seek a law enforcement exception, you have to -- you have to disclose the name of the person that would be -- that harm would be derived for in seeking that exception. This is a different argument that the president thinks is compelling.
QUESTION: Well, when did he decide that it was important to make that argument? Did one of the lawyers come to him and say...
GIBBS: No. He came to the lawyers.
QUESTION: And when did all that...
GIBBS: That was a meeting that was held last week in the Oval Office.
QUESTION: Robert, if that was such a compelling case, why was that not weighed in April then? Because it seems like -- was there a failure here at the White House in the first go-round in April to fully weigh the national security implications?
GIBBS: The argument that the president seeks to make is one that hasn’t been made before. The -- I’m not going to get into blame for this or that. Understanding that there was significant legal momentum in these cases prior to the president entering into office, we are now at a point where it is likely that some stay will be asked to prevent the release of these photos. And I believe the date -- I think we have until June 8th to appeal -- to seek review of those decisions by the Second Circuit.
QUESTION: But on April 24th, you also said, quote, “The Department of Justice decided, based on the ruling, the court ruling, is that it was, quote, hopeless to appeal.”
GIBBS: Right. QUESTION: Now you’re saying it’s not hopeless. GIBBS: Well, based on the argument that -- yes, I said that it was hopeless based on the argument that was made during the course of the original FOIA lawsuit, the appeal, the three-judge ruling, and the decision to decline the full circuit to make that -- to make those determinations. The president isn’t -- what I’m saying to you, Ed, is the president isn’t going back to remake the argument that has been made. The president is going -- has asked his legal team to go back and make a new argument based on national security.
QUESTION: This new argument -- if you’re saying, basically, that this could put troops in further harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan, Former Vice President Cheney, General Hayden, others have made the same argument about releasing the so-called torture memos. Do you have any regrets about putting those memos out? They’ve made the same argument about them?
GIBBS: No. Well, I’ll use the example I’ve used on this before, Ed. You didn’t begin to report on enhanced interrogation techniques at the release of the OLC memos, did you?
GIBBS: OK. The -- I’m saying...
QUESTION: (Inaudible)
GIBBS: Hold on. I’m also sensing that the graphic that CNN uses to denote what happens when somebody gets waterboarded wasn’t likely developed based on reading memos that were released three weeks ago. The existence of enhanced interrogation techniques were noted by the former administration in speeches that they gave. You read about the enhanced interrogation techniques in autobiographies written by members of that former administration. The notion...
QUESTION: The graphics would not also be based on any prisoner photos you might release because we already know that people were abused in prisons. So why not put them out there?
GIBBS: I’m not sure that you’d do a graphic of a photo.
QUESTION: No. A graphic of someone being abused. We’ve all seen Abu Ghraib photos, and you were saying about the photos back in April, lack, it’s already exhausted and, essentially, these photos are going to come out anyway.
GIBBS: Based on the previous legal argument, yes. The previous legal argument denoted that the case had been lost. There’s a new legal argument that’s being made. My sense is, Ed, why do you do a graphic on CNN?
QUESTION: We’re trying to show people -- explain to people...
GIBBS: OK. The president believes that the existence of the photos themselves does not actually add to the understanding that detainee abuse happened, was investigated, that actions were taken by those that did, indeed, or might have undertaken potential abuse of detainees. And those cases were all dating back to finishing in 2004.
GIBBS: The president doesn’t believe the release of a photo surrounding that investigation does the anything to illuminate the existence of that investigation, only to provide some portion of sensationality.
QUESTION: Robert, is that really his role to decide whether or not it illuminates? That’s not the president of the United States’ role to decide, well, this is information will illuminate for the people, and this information isn’t.
GIBBS: No, the -- the -- the role of the president in this situation is as commander-in-chief. And if he determines that, through the release of these photos, that they pose a threat to those that serve to protect our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan through the illumination of whatever, he can make a determination to ask his legal team to go back to court and make a legal argument that he doesn’t believe was made and provides the most salient case and most important points for not releasing these photos.
Those determinations are, indeed, made by this president and -- and -- and are being made.
QUESTION: The Bush administration has obviously made the argument that releasing these specific photographs will endanger troops, and they did so in the way that you described, with -- with seeking the FOIA exemption for law enforcement personnel.
GIBBS: Right.
QUESTION: The specific avenue that your -- that your legal team’s going to go, you’re not sure if it’s going to be going back to the district court or...
GIBBS: I don’t know the -- I’ll check with -- put that -- we’ll check with -- with those guys specifically. I think, in some ways, they’re looking at whether it is to go to a lower court or to go to the Supreme Court.
QUESTION: And then just to follow up on the new argument, so are there specific -- is there specific case law arguments that the president knows that exist that were not used? Because it’s -- I find it hard to believe that the Bush administration didn’t turn under every rock to try to find an argument to do this.
GIBBS: Well, the president doesn’t believe that was the case. And the president, after reviewing the case, believes that -- that we have a compelling argument. [emphasis added]

Already reluctant to have the Justice Department enforce the rule of law and hold investigations and prosecutions for torture and crimes against humanity, how do arguments that the president can decide what illuminates a situation and what doesn’t, that the president didn’t misjudge the national security implications of the photos, and that the press doesn’t need these photos to report on treatment of detainees help the administration at all?

Of course, the press needs these photos to be released so they can cover the issue of torture and war crimes, which were part of Bush Administration policy. What else is going to motivate them to cover the issue? Ethics and morals?

This reversal is just one event in a series of events that have occurred in relation to state secrets, accountability, and transparency since Obama was inaugurated.

Obama’s vow “to open government more than ever” was sharply contradicted by his Justice Department which chose to “defend Bush administration decisions to keep secret many documents about domestic wiretapping, data collection on travelers and U.S. citizens, and interrogation of suspected terrorists.”

In March, the Obama administration continued a tradition of the Bush Administration and, citing state-secrets privileges, they, like the Bush Administration, continued to stall a suit brought by the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which claimed that the government illegally wiretapped and violated the charity’s right to due process and freedom of speech because the government thought the charity was funding terrorism.

The Justice Department defended torture memo author John Yoo and Attorney General Eric Holder defended the decision claiming that it was in “the best interest of the United State.”

To mark Obama’s 100days in office, Sen. Russ Feingold released a “report card” on “actions to restore the rule of law.” Obama’s actions on state secrets earned him the worst grades.

Feingold cited the fact that Obama had “invoked the state secrets privilege in three cases in the first 100 days -- Al Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Obama, Mohammed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, and Jewel v. NSA” and had not taken a position on the State Secrets Protection Act.

Obama “issued an immediate halt to the military commission proceedings for prosecuting detainees and filed a request in Federal District Court in Washington to stay habeas corpus proceedings there.” But, most recently, the administration is seriously considering reviving military commissions for prosecuting Guantanamo detainees.

Even worse, Obama is considering “indefinite detention” for Guantanamo prisoners.

Now, Larisa Alexandrovna has compiled an article that suggests the “Obama Justice Department is continuing to cover up Bush-Era crimes.”

The decision to hold back the photos is another blow to freedom and democracy that follows a plethora of blows which have occurred in this decade.

The logic that these photos will create terrorism is patently false. It’s not the photos of torture that kill our soldiers, but the fact that the U.S. military and CIA tortures or tortured that creates or created terrorism.

We as a people must seriously consider how this decision to hide photos reflects our society’s values and how it shows our unwillingness to demand accountability and the enforcement of the rule of law.

What does the Obama Administration really want? The American people and its military forces to be safe from “terrorism” or the American people to stop demanding that the Obama Administration investigate and prosecute Bush Administration officials for torture and crimes against humanity?

Connecticut out to poach NY's hedge-funders

Hey, Connecticut, back off!

Nutmeg State officials are dramatically stepping up their efforts to poach New York businesses -- wooing hedge-fund honchos to relocate by promising an "intimate" meeting with Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell at a swanky steakhouse in Darien, according to a letter obtained by The Post.

Rell wrote to Timothy Selby, president of the New York Hedge Fund Roundtable, last Friday warning him that a proposed $50 million tax on certain hedge-fund managers is still alive in Albany -- and that's a great reason to move their businesses and jobs to her side of the border.

"I am personally inviting you and a few of your colleagues to meet with me," Rell wrote, adding, "We have much to discuss!"

"The meeting will be intimate, direct and private," she confided.

The powwow is set for Aug. 2 at The Water's Edge at Giovanni's in Darien.

Rell called it "a lovely place where we can talk further about Connecticut's advantages and the needs of your industry."

The restaurant features a mouth-watering menu of chateaubriand, special double porterhouse and even a "New York cut T-bone," along with seafood and Italian delights. Fine wine and top-shelf liquor are also available.

Last month, Gov. Paterson and legislative leaders endorsed a plan to begin taxing the so-called "carry" -- a performance incentive for generating profits -- of hedge-fund managers who work in New York but live in Connecticut and other states.

That could subject the carry -- a substantial portion of the managers' remuneration -- to New York's tax rate of up to 7.85 percent. New York currently doesn't tax that money for those hedge-fund honchos who live out of state. Mayor Bloomberg opposed the planned tax.

Selby welcomed Rell's overture.

"I'm encouraged that there is a politician who would have such an appreciation for this sector of the financial-services industry," he told The Post.

He noted that hedge funds could easily relocate. "This is an industry that can work from a laptop anywhere in the world," he said.

Last month, Rell began her cross-the-border pitch to big New York funds such as J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Angelo, Gordon & Co. and Paulson & Co.

"I want you to know . . . that my invitation to move your business here is not only still open -- it is in earnest," Rell, a Republican, wrote last week.

Selby said he's "not sure" if he'll accept the invite but it's "under consideration."

However, he blasted the tax and noted -- in an obvious dig at Paterson -- "I only wish we had a counterpart of hers in New York."

Paterson tried to distance himself from the proposed tax earlier this month, saying he supported the out-of-state tax only "because we couldn't get the Legislature to do the other revenue raises we thought were more constructive."

Selby said Paterson "fell short of saying they have to pull it" from the Legislative hopper.

Consumer group: Insurers kept surplus while hiking premiums

Non-profit Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans stockpiled billions of dollars during the past decade, yet continued to hit consumers with double-digit premium increases, Consumers Union found in an analysis of 10 of the plans' finances.

Insurers must keep surplus money to ensure they can pay policyholders' medical bills if unexpected market conditions develop. Yet seven of the plans examined held more than three times the amount regulators consider the minimum needed to do that, according to a report being released today by the non-profit consumer group.

"Consumers are struggling to afford health coverage," said report author Sondra Roberto. "Those funds could be used in some cases to mitigate these rate increases."

The report calls on state insurance regulators to scrutinize surpluses when considering rate increases and set maximum limits for surpluses. In most states, it said, regulators focus only on ensuring companies have minimum surpluses to be financially sound.

Alissa Fox, a senior vice president at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, said this is a "dangerous" time for regulators to limit health plans' surpluses because of great uncertainty about how insurance costs will change under the nation's new health law. "It's a safety net," she said.

Consumers Union studied non-profit Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans because they cover one in three Americans with private insurance.

Examples cited in the report include:

• Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona: A $717.1 million surplus in 2009, seven times the regulatory minimum. The plan raised rates for individual market customers by as much as 18% in 2009. Company spokeswoman Regena Frieden said: "We believe the amount we have in reserves is appropriate."

• Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon: A surplus of $565.2 million in 2009, about 3.6 times the regulatory minimum. The plan raised rates on some individual plans an average of 25.3% in 2009 and 16% in 2010. Spokeswoman Angela Hult said the company lost money on its individual policies and that the surplus is "essential to protecting our members from surges in claims costs."

Regulating surpluses is a difficult balancing act because keeping plans financially sound is critical, regulators said. Each plan has different surplus risks and needs depending on its members.

Oregon Insurance Division administrator Teresa Miller, whose office considered Regence's surplus and limited its request for a higher 2010 rate hike, said: "The tough question is how much surplus is too much surplus. There is no agreement on that."

The Oregon Legislature last year gave state regulators the explicit authority to consider a company's surplus when it reviews rates — a tool Miller said her agency had sought since 2007. A report on the agency's website charts how surplus levels have risen since 2001.

In Michigan, a law caps the surplus of the state's Blue Cross Blue Shield plan at five times the regulatory minimum. Insurance Commissioner Ken Ross said the state's Legislature wanted to give the insurer flexibility but also protect consumers against the possibility the plan could hold too much money in its surplus funds. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has rarely neared the limit and usually is about halfway between the minimum and maximum. "It seems to have worked relatively well," Ross said.

The company insures more than half of the people in Michigan, Ross said, so it's critical it have enough capital to remain financially sound. "Their health in many ways goes to the health of the entire health care system in Michigan," he said.

Jobless claims jump higher than expected

The number of Americans filing jobless claims jumped higher than expected last week, underscoring worries about the economic recovery in the second half of the year.

The Labor Department said initial claims for unemployment benefits, which reflect firings by businesses, rose by 37,000 to 464,000 in the week ending on July 17. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected that claims would only hit 445,000 while those surveyed by Dow Jones had expected 448,000.

Many analysts had expected the jobless claim numbers to reverse declines earlier in the summer because of seasonal issues such as factories shutting down for maintenance. But last week's increase shows that there may be more challenges to the labor market.

Historically, jobless claims fall as jobs grow but in recent months that hasn't been the case as some companies have reduced staff while others have expanded in an uneven recovery.

New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson, for instance, said in July it would cut 300 positions from a factory where children's medicines were made. But other companies such as Apple, which last week announced that its profits hit a record high thanks to the successful rollout of its iPad and iPhone mobile devices, are adding to their payrolls.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke expressed worry about the jobs situation in testimony before Congress Wednesday, saying it will likely take a "significant amount of time" to bring back the roughly 8.5 million jobs lost in 2008 and 2009. After hitting a 26-year high of 10.1 percent in October 2009, the unemployment rate fell to 9.5 percent in June. But millions remain without work.

On Wednesday, the Senate approved the hotly debated extension of unemployment benefits for 2.5 million people whose benefits expired. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending July 10 were in New York (18,047) due to layoffs in the transportation, service and public administration industries and Indiana (9,094) due to layoffs in the automotive and service industries. The largest decreases were in New Jersey (-10,585) because of fewer reductions in transportation, warehousing and services and California (-8,034) because of shorter workweeks as well as fewer layoffs in the service industry, the Labor Department said.

Falling into The Pit with Ben Stein and The Tribe.

Dog Poet Transmitting…….

Ben Stein says that the unemployed are people with unpleasant personalities. He didn’t say anything about how Zionist Bankers are responsible for the majority of the unemployed. He sees no irony in the fact that he himself is one of the most unpleasant people in an unpleasant system that survives by military adventures abroad and cannibalism at home. It can’t be mere accident or coincidence that the authors of all recent assaults on foreign nations have been engineered by Zionists in critical positions in the American government; media, war profiteering corporations and well funded lobby groups.

It’s no accident or coincidence that 9/11 was orchestrated by Zionist, dual nationals in Israel and the U.S., with the help of rogue elements in the intelligence services, military and government leadership. It’s a straight shot from 9/11 to all of the recent assaults in foreign nations and the collapse of the economic system. Now, those responsible for the awful state of the American dream machine being turned into a nightmare, are migrating to India, Brazil and other locations in order to do it all over again.

For some of us, there is no greater misfortune than to live a lie. For most of us, lies and impossible hopes are a comfort zone against the inconvenience of the truth. The truth is not just what is. It contains a cosmic moral code which says that certain methods and means are unacceptable to a human being. It also contains the understanding of where these means and methods lead; to the loss of one’s humanity and one’s destruction. No one engaged in living a lie and performing injustices upon one’s fellows can bear what the truth affirms. They willingly accept their own destruction rather than to be hampered in the pursuit of selfish ends for temporary gain. It seems insane and it is insane but it is how it is for so many in these times.

I can now see how lucky I was to have been born into terrible circumstances. It made finding the truth an all compelling drive. I was able to see through the illusion of the world and its false promises so that none of these things attracted me for very long. Disappointment was swift and final. I have not yet discovered the truth about myself but I do not believe it can be denied to anyone who is determined in their search.

No doubt since long before the tale of the Golden Calf took place there have been a people upon this planet whose sole interest is the control and manipulation of the material plane. We see them in full flower today, like a Kudzu or Miconia plant infestation or some ravenous, Poison Nightshade, mind parasite that feeds impossible dreams while it feeds on the dreamer. Today, in a country created from a web of deceit and murder for the purpose of financial control over the world’s economies, we see a displaced people confined in a gulag and tormented beyond reason by the people who displaced them and performed before the eyes of an indifferent world.

We see these people in control of the flow of information. We see them as the instigators of world conflicts for the purpose of personal enrichment, while we see them brag about their capacity to perform it. We see millions dead and displaced from the cradle of civilization, while their antiquities are looted to serve revisionist history and for the profit in them. This country should have a t-shirt which reads, “Planet Earth, where the weak and deluded are killed and eaten by us”. We see where the illegally resident, in a country with no right to exist, work in tireless consort with their fellows around the world to plunge the whole of the Earth into a flaming Armageddon. We see the full implications of materialism, as the majority of the world scrambles for their opportunity to serve and emulate these psychopaths in order to get their piece of a replicating disco ball; a piece of something shiny and artificial, without nutrients or actual value. You can’t eat it but you can try to make love to it. Of course, there are a number of things you can’t make Love do and this is one of them.

Seen with the same eyes that see the state of the world, as if it were something to pounce upon, rape, kill and dismember and then sell off for the parts, one could easily be discouraged and led into despair. These eyes cannot see beyond the relative value of what they have stolen and desire. There are other eyes that can. We know something exists beyond this terrible state of the times. Those who have not sold out their birthright for a mess of potage know that a new world is coming. The greatest evidence is the terrible state of the times.

It is an indication of how low civilization has fallen when someone like Ben Stein is not universally loathed for the things he says. I am reminded of Marie Antoinette and her comment about letting the starving class of France eat cake. It’s true that she was referring to an inexpensive bread product and not what she is generally understood to have said but the implication and the point remains. We know what happened to Marie. We know that she was warned by Cagliostro and St. Germain. We know that the same is on the horizon for the Ben Stein’s and Netanyahu’s, the Murdoch’s and Rothschilds.

These bloody affairs do not come for any other reason save that there are no other alternatives. Those who have brought the world to this state and who press for even greater injuries are long past the point where reason and understanding can have any impact on their iniquities. They believe they are beyond judgment and they are determined to reap the ultimate degree of suffering from the lives of those they torment for their profit and pleasure. They actually take pleasure from the conditions they cause.

Those who can read the signs can foretell the future. Singular acts of prediction may fail but the general trends can be apprehended with little trouble. The incredible hubris of the psychopathic overclass; the pornographic butcheries, the unspeakable acts of profit from human misery, the diabolical religions and all of the institutions that operate in broad daylight, without any shame or sense of impending consequence, are all stage markers along the incremental march of a grand awakening out of a persistent and long standing darkness. They are all evidence and testimony against those who perform these things and a guarantee that retribution on a cosmic scale shall not be long denied.

When the hand of the punisher is raised, because it cannot be further withheld and when the patience of Nature, human effort and divine agency has been of little use in convincing those without conscience of the error of their ways, it can be a terrible thing to see. When calamity comes, then people everywhere cry out against the ruination of their hopes, their lives and their low born aspirations which are but the tale of what preceded it. It is easy to see. People in the main do not listen and they do not learn. They just look for another way to go about the same thing. It is no surprise that Ben Stein and his fellows have accomplished so much. All they had to do was pander to the lowest common denominator in all of us. All they had to do was to cater to the basest human appetites and hold out the promise of an opportunity to be like them. They set each of us against each other and ourselves and took profit from the confusion and conflict. They littered the highway of the human passage with road side carcasses and charged so much to roll in them and so much to watch it happen. Then they auctioned them off to each other.

For myself, I cannot look at what is everywhere to be seen, as if it were the real testament of all our efforts and ambitions. I cannot look at it as if this were the true nature of our human state. Someone has deceived us into something far below our real nature into a travesty of ourselves. Something has defined us as beasts of appetite and bid us eat our fill. Something has replaced our plates and cutlery with a trough and turned our environment into a sty. Something also lives in us and cannot be dishonored or killed. It is stronger than all of our failures and misfortunes. It is something beyond definition and the indomitable, single aspiration that will rise within us when all other means have shown us the error of our ways.

This is what I look at, even when it is so completely concealed in the surrounding disorder. Some of us are not going to “go gentle into that dark night”. Some of us will not give up or give in. Some of us have taken the narrow path; the King’s Highway that runs away from the modern road that ends in the unavoidable entropy of what lies result in. All of this madness and ignorant endeavor is nothing more than irrefutable evidence that none of it works. It’s truly said that the fool who persists in his folly will be made wise. There are other ways to reach this state and I sincerely hope you find one.

End Transmission…….

This week’s radio show will be available for download on Sunday night or Monday.

When Darkness Falls

The New Shangri-La

Mirrors Mirror

Will the jobs ever return?

I’m sure everyone within an eyeshot of this article knows at least one person with a master’s degree who has been out of work for a year or more. Many of us know several people like that -- smart, capable, and good people. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published a chart of the median duration of unemployment, and it’s ugly. The spike in long-term unemployment is literally off the charts, and given that there are nearly 6 unemployed for every 1 job opening, we can expect this trend to continue.

Even the gainfully employed are terrified that their job could be next, clutching to it tightly while being conditioned to thank their bosses for reduced wages and benefits as long as they hold on to their position. Although the federal government is one of the only sectors hiring, state workers are being slashed in record numbers as 46 states teeter near bankruptcy. Teachers, cops, and firefighters -- the backbone of many small communities -- are being gutted by debts owed to banks who enjoy bailouts and bonuses.

It seems that every facet of the economy is blinking "red alert," setting new records of failure in every category. The game is up. The Ponzi scheme is over. Credit is maxed out, and since flooding the economy with more money (credit) is the only way to stimulate job growth, we can reserve our hope.

Industrial, tech support, and other white-collar jobs have been relocated to countries with cheaper labor and are unlikely to return, in addition to the lack of money flowing to the consumer class. Six more fortune 500 companies including Kraft Foods and Walt Disney recently announced they are moving their headquarters to China. And you, the taxpayer, bought General Motors and invested in factories in Brazil and not America.

The industrial jobs seem to be gone forever, or at least until the cost of labor in the United States = slave labor + less taxes + shipping costs from Asia. However, you can sing at the funeral pyre for the white-collar tech-support jobs done over fiber optic lines.

Another Senate Charade

This note comes courtesy of my friend David Sirota out in Colorado. This is a classic example of how the Senate works. If the public understood better how rigged this game is, and how few issues are actually left to an honest vote in the legislature, I'm pretty sure the pitchfork factor would be twice even what it is now.

The short version of this story: Bernie Sanders had put forth a proposal in the Senate to put a 15 percent cap on credit-card interest. Who isn't in favor of this kind of legislation? The only difference between credit card companies and loan sharks at this point is that you can choose to not patronize a loan shark. As an adult professional in this country one has to have a credit card - it's impossible to rent a car, buy a hotel room, shop online or do countless other things without one.

But all the credit card companies use the same insane formulae based on FICO scores to charge exorbitant interest rates for anyone who slips up - and they don't exactly make it easy to not slip up. (I'm doing research on this subject so anyone who has a particularly egregious story about being ripped off by credit card companies, please write in). Almost everyone has horror stories about consumer credit and my guess is that if put to a national referendum, something like the Sanders 15% cap would pass pretty easily.

In Washington, of course, it's another story. Finance/Credit companies spent well over $30 million in lobbying in each of the last two years. If you take a look at contributions to Banking Committee members, you always find Finance and Credit companies at or near the top of the list. The credit card companies' dominance of congress was never more apparent than in the Bankruptcy Bill back in 2005, which essentially made it impossible for people with credit card debt to file for bankruptcy to keep their houses.

So when something like this Sanders thing comes up, the outcome is usually pretty predictable. The measure got beat pretty soundly, but the Colorado delegation provided a comic asterisk to the defeat. Both of the state's Democratic Senators, Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, initially voted "no." But right before the vote, i.e. once it became clear that the bill had no chance of passing, they both switched sides and joined 31 other Senators in voting "yes."

Right after it happened, Bennet was accused of changing his vote so that he could seem like he was for the measure, even though he had no intention of voting "yes" if the bill had any chance of passing.

A spokesman for Bennet's Democratic primary challenger, Andrew Romanoff, says it appears Bennet changed his vote after it was clear the cap proposal would die, so he could tell constituents he voted "yes" for consumer protection.

"The general public has no idea what goes on in the name of political self-preservation," said Romanoff spokesman Roy Teicher. "This is why people hate Washington, and this video makes their case swiftly."

This sort of thing is so common in the Senate, nobody even blinks anymore. One of my favorite examples was Alabama Republican Richard Shelby's decision to cast a "yea" vote for the doomed Brown-Levin amendment mandating the breakup of "too big to fail" companies. Brown-Levin was first of all a classic example of how the leadership, in this case Harry Reid, never lets a dangerous amendment get voted on until he's quite sure that it will lose. But when Shelby - one of the chief obfuscating forces in the entire finance reform effort - decided to cast a "yea" vote for Brown-Levin, it was almost like a Senatorial attempt at humor.

Obviously there's no proof that this is what went on with Udall and Bennet, but it's not hard to draw conclusions. Very little is left to chance on the Senate floor. The leadership does a careful head count before every vote, and it's rare that the outcome of any important vote is a surprise. I've even been told that sometimes members will get the blessing of the leadership to cast "populist" votes once it's been determined that the measure will fall short.

P.S Here's Sirota's video on the issue

P.P.S. Watch the video closely. You can see Udall and Bennet initially vote "no." Then you see them conferring with Chuck Schumer, at which point they're probably learning that the vote will lose. At 3:07:57 Bennet switches his vote, and 15 seconds later Udall does the same.